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Summer 2017

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“Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia, To see The Total Eclipse of the Sun.” Lyrics from the hit song “You’re So Vain”  by Carly Simon, released Dec. 2, 1972
“Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia, To see The Total Eclipse of the Sun.” Lyrics from the hit song “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon, released Dec. 2, 1972

The Day the Sun Goes Dark

In ancient times, people had grand ideas about eclipses. They were viewed as everything from gods being unpleased to predictors of miracles to dragons eating the sun. Eclipses were omens for good or evil and because they were misunderstood, they were either revered or feared.

Luckily, our ancestors got wise to the ways of the sun and the moon. The darkness of an eclipse is now an exciting scientific occurrence instead of an omen predicting the end of days.

Forty-seven years after the last total solar eclipse occurred in our neck of the woods, Saturday, March 7, 1970, the countdown has begun and the clock is ticking toward the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 21, the day the sun will go dark again. For many people, this will be a first-time event. The exciting news is it will be easily accessible, especially in our fair state. The total eclipse of the sun is predicted to darken the skies from South Carolina all the way to Oregon.

The heart of totality will be seen from around the Santee Cooper Lakes, Marion and Moultrie. The five-county area of Berkeley, Calhoun, Clarendon, Orangeburg and Sumter are in the international solar spotlight. The lakes and their tourism community are buzzing with excitement.

“The anticipation has been building for more than a year now, and this is being viewed as one of the biggest tourism draws ever in the 75-year history of lakes Marion and Moultrie,” said Mary Shriner, executive director of the Santee Cooper Counties Promotion Commission. “There is no doubt about it; around the lakes will be one of the best places to experience the eclipse.”

Commonly known by its informal name, Santee Cooper Country, the state-chartered, regional-tourism organization has been constantly fielding inquiries far and wide for the big moment. And what a moment it is.

Using Santee Cooper’s Old Santee Canal Park in Moncks Corner as a reference point, the eclipse is scheduled to begin at 1:16 p.m. and end at 4:09 p.m. The time of “totality” is 2:47 p.m. and will last about 2 minutes and 30 seconds, about a half-minute longer than it takes to run an average Kentucky Derby.

Old Santee Canal Park is where the west branch of the Cooper River and Tailrace Canal begins or ends, depending on which direction your boat is traveling. The big floating dock there is inviting to watercraft and Park Director Brad Sale is expecting a large crowd to visit that day.

The park is planning an eclipse-watching event with food and activities and visitors are welcome to join. The Lowcountry Stargazers organization also will attend and will provide solar telescopes for public viewing. The Stargazers can also answer your eclipse questions. The park also will have a number of solar eclipse sunglasses available on a first-come, first-served basis with paid admission to the park. The total eclipse will last 2 minutes and 34 seconds at this location. Admission to the park, located at 900 Stony Landing Road in Moncks Corner, is $3 per person.

In a normal year, the summer season everywhere hits the high-water mark in July, culminating on Independence Day. But this year is special. The eclipse is a big draw for South Carolinians and schedules are being changed around it. Although public schools, colleges and universities will have already started, most schools are taking a three-day weekend.

The path of totality is defined as the path where observers see the moon completely cover the sun. In South Carolina, totality will last roughly two and a half minutes.
The path of totality is defined as the path where observers see the moon completely cover the sun. In South Carolina, totality will last roughly two and a half minutes.

“The hotels and motels around the town of Santee are booked up for the eclipse,” Shriner said. The same is true in Moncks Corner.

According to the “Santee Cooper Country 2017 Official Visitors Guide,” there are 44 destinations right on or near the lakes that offer an ideal opportunity to experience the eclipse. These viewing spots include resorts, marinas, state and county parks, campgrounds, fish camps, boat landings, restaurants and golf courses.

Visit www.santeecoopercountry.org to see the full destination list and pick your perfect eclipse-viewing location. Some events and programs may already be sold out, but spots could become available due to cancellations. Of course, outdoor activities are “weather permitting.” The visitor’s guide also lists opportunities for privately owned homes on the lakes that are available for rent by real estate firms.

Where will YOU be on Aug. 21 for the total solar eclipse? Lakes Marion and Moultrie will be prime spots for viewing.
Where will YOU be on Aug. 21 for the total solar eclipse? Lakes Marion and Moultrie will be prime spots for viewing.